Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Interview with Tom Barry, Author of When the Siren Calls

Today I will be featuring an interview with Tom Barry, author of When the Siren Calls.

What are your favourite book(s)?

I read widely, partly because I'm in a local book club. I'm the only guy, so my choice is always outvoted! I really couldn't pick a single favourite, so I'll say the most recent book that I thoroughly enjoyed, Restless, by William Boyd.

Who is your favourite author?

I read everything by Ben Elton, but that's because I like the subject matter and you can get through a book of his in a weekend, which is probably how long he took to write it. At the airport I'd most likely grab a book by John Grisham and be sure I'd like it, but never read it again. Tom Wolfe is not everyone's favourite but I would seek out a book by him; Bonfire of the Vanities is probably a book I'd read again.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Inspiration is all around, you just need to recognise it when it comes your way. I can't understand writers who have methodologies for generating ideas. If I wake up remembering a dream I may write it down before I forget it. Apart from that I write about, or draw on, things I know, people I've met, jobs I’ve held, places I've been, experiences I’ve had. I've never felt the need to research a book, too many stories waiting to be told but, having said that, I have an idea my heroine in When the Siren Calls - Isobel - is going to find herself in some tricky situations in India in book three of the trilogy. I have spent little time in India, so I may make researching the story an excuse for a holiday.

Where is your favourite place to do your writing?

In my study at home. I like to be alone with no distractions and sit at a desk, like it's a proper job. A lot of writing is really work; it's revising, editing, polishing. I can't do that in a hammock on a beach or down in Starbucks, and I wonder about the motivations of people who do. Having said that, I did a big chunk of the creative writing for When the Siren Calls in Thailand, so I better not be too prescriptive for any budding writer reading this.

What made you decide to write a book with a love triangle?

I never did, it just happened. I sit down with an idea and with one or two central characters in mind, and then I let the characters drive the story. I don't believe in plotting in detail, or in beginning with the end in mind. That's writing by numbers as far as I'm concerned. In the original version of When the Siren Calls the love triangle was not central. But when I've finished a book I go back and ask myself how can I raise the stakes, create more conflict, give the heroine a bigger moral dilemma. So the love triangle really emerged as I tried to create more danger for Isobel, not just because of the threat that Lucy poses, but because through Lucy we see the dark side of Jay's character that Isobel is unaware of.  And that all fitted well with a story that is about adult relationships. My readers are really interested in characters, what motivates them and what happens to them, and the love triangle enriches that aspect of the story. Plus it allowed for some even more highly charged bedroom scenes… but that never figured in my thinking!

What was the hardest part of writing your novel?

Cutting out favourite scenes.  The first manuscript, after editing, was a huge 200,000 words; three times the size of most commercial novels today. But the length itself was not the real problem, it was recognising those sub-plots that were not central to the story, that were a sideshow or slowed pace and reduced tension. Cutting out the turgid stuff is painless, but cutting a hot bedroom scene is not a natural act, for me at least. I had some real battles with my editor. Some I won, some I lost, but I think we mostly made the right decisions about what to leave out.

Tell us about your new novel.

My original plan was to write a business book that distilled down everything I’d learnt about selling over 20 years in the corporate world. But when the opportunity came, I decided that, if I were to be a writer, I'd rather entertain my readers than lecture them! Much more fascinating, it seemed to me, to embody everything I knew about persuasion in a fictional character, in a master persuader.

Isobel is quintessentially English: a modern day Lady Chatterley. When she meets Jay, she imagines a life of excitement outside her stagnant marriage, free of her workaholic husband. When the Siren Calls tells what happens next.

When the Siren Calls: a story of seduction, deception and betrayal...
When restless and neglected Isobel is invited to an idyllic Tuscan retreat owned by the enigmatic Jay, she imagines a life of excitement outside her stagnant marriage. She abandons herself in a passionate affair, but is soon trapped in a web of deception and betrayal as her desperate lover fights for survival. Hopelessly bound under Jay’s spell, Isobel must discover if her lover is her saviour, or her nemesis.

About the Author.

Tom Barry is uniquely placed to throw fresh light on the world of Britain’s rich and famous. After 20 years working amongst city of London ‘fat-cats,’ and two heart attacks, he retreated to suburbia to live in a celebrity bubble alongside footballers, rock stars and screen idols. If infidelity is as ubiquitous amongst the rich and famous as Barry suggests, then his debut novel will win him few friends amongst his illustrious neighbours. You can follow Tom on Twitter @tombarry100 and visit his highly opinionated blog at http://tombarrywrites.com.


  1. Thanks for sharing news about When The Siren Calls before it's even been officially published Natasha! It sounds like a really good read and I'm a bit obsessed with romantic thrillers and adult fiction after reading 50 Shades!

    1. I hope you will read it and enjoy it! Look out for a review and a giveaway of this book sometime in the next month or so.